NGV announces Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition for summer 2014/15

FROM the Sidewalk to the Catwalk is the Australian exclusive exhibition of the bold, eccentric fashion from one of the industry’s biggest icons. Juliana Mare reports.

Andrej Pejić 2013. Confession of a Child of the Century collection. Jean Paul Gaultier Haute couture, autumn- winter 2012-13 © Alix Malka

Andrej Pejić 2013. Confession of a Child of the Century collection.
Jean Paul Gaultier Haute couture, autumn- winter 2012-13 © Alix Malka

Dita Von Teese, Gemma Ward, Sarah Jessica Parker and Beyoncé have all donned a Gaultier frock but it’s the radical cone bra worn by Madonna during her 1990 Blond Ambition tour, that is perhaps his most recognised piece of fashion art.

140 fabulous Gaultier designs ranging from his earliest dress in 1971 to his current work will be on display in an exhibition that Minister for the Arts, Heidi Victoria says is one of the most exciting that we’ll se anywhere in Australia in the next few years.

Millions have already viewed the exhibition in Montreal, New York and London however for the Melbourne leg of the world tour, an exclusive section showcasing Gaultier’s Australian muses, has been developed.

Left: Gaultier gown worn by Cate Blanchett. Right: Gaultier gowns worn by Kylie Minogue (left) and Nicole Kidman (right). Photos: Rachel Gan.

Left: Gaultier gown worn by Cate Blanchett. Right: Gaultier gowns worn by Kylie Minogue (left) and Nicole Kidman (right). Photos: Rachel Gan.

“Preparing this exhibition I have realised how strong my ties to Australia are – Nicole Kidman was my first couture client; I have dressed Cate Blanchett on numerous occasions; Kylie [Minogue] is a dear friend,” Mr Gaultier said.

There will be seven sections dividing the exhibition, each exploring a different passion and obsession Gaultier had over the years. These include The Boudoir highlighting Gaultier’s pieces of lingerie and exquisite corsetry, Punk Cancan showcasing his brilliantly contrasting styles including London punk and Urban Jungle; designs with a fusion of multiethnic influences.

Over two years, exhibition curator Thierry-Maxime Loriot worked with Gaultier to sift through his archives and choose just 140 out of over 10,000 pieces, a task Loriot says was both a dream and a nightmare.

Everything from design sketches, accessories, film excerpts and runway footage will also feature throughout the exhibition to showcase Gaultier’s incredible repertoire across fashion, film and music.

Dita Von Teese: Flaunt 2003 Dada collection. Jean Paul Gaultier Ready-to-wear, spring- summer 1983 © Perou

Dita Von Teese: Flaunt 2003
Dada collection. Jean Paul Gaultier Ready-to-wear, spring- summer 1983
© Perou

32 of the exhibition mannequins will come to life with animated faces of the celebrities that wore the eccentric designs. They will wink, smile and sing to the audience; an innovative feature the likes of which have never been seen in a gallery before.

NGV Director Tony Ellwood says he’s thrilled that the NGV will be hosting such a “ground-breaking international exhibition.”

The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: from the Sidewalk to the Catwalk will open at the NGV on October 17.


I attended this event for Meld Magazine. View the article on their site here.


From inside the mind, onto the canvas

Her auburn hair is tightly pulled back away from her face exposing the creamy skin of her forehead. Thin, low-set brows sit above large, unnaturally olive-green eyes which stare boldly and unwaveringly at you. Her strong gaze is unhindered by doubt or fear and she challenges you to break eye contact first. Of course, she wins. Complimented with a backdrop of soothing greys and burnt ochre, her delicate, curvaceous features encapsulate a sense of poise and femininity.

The subject matter of Fiona Presland’s ‘Be the Water Where I’m Wading’ is an imagined woman, spilling out from Fiona’s imagination onto the canvas which is now on display at the Without Pier Gallery in Cheltenham. It is one of nine pieces in the current exhibition alongside works by three other contemporary Australian artists.

Recognising her passion for drawing at an early age, Fiona transitioned from a career in visual merchandising to a full time artist once having children. After dabbling and exhibiting in local art shows, Fiona had her first gallery exhibition in 2004 at the Manyung Gallery in Mount Eliza.

“I had my first exhibition…and that was successful and so from then on there, I continued to paint on a regular basis and exhibit usually about twice a year,” Fiona says.

Painting what she describes as Contemporary Figurative, Fiona’s art focuses on representing emotions through the female form, in expressions and movements. Her current collection is a series of figurative nudes which focus heavily on communicating emotion through the eyes. Subliminally, Fiona says this collection “focuses on things that have happened to my family and friends over the past 12 months.”

“Some pieces are very intense and confrontational,” she says. To achieve a sense of emotion within her art, Fiona uses bold splashes of either brick reds or steely blues – two colours that are commonly associated with specific feelings.

 “Red is a very passionate colour and blue has a much deeper, softer emotion.”

Quite often, these brazen blocks of colour contrast with the soft lines of the female figures. Gallery Manager of Without Pier, Liz Manning says Fiona has captured female form beautifully in this collection.

“Fiona’s a very feminine woman and she brings a lot of femininity into her work as well,” Liz says.

Capturing the timeless saying, ‘the eyes are the window to the soul’, Fiona says this series focuses a lot on the eyes which are “intense blues” that may not be entirely natural looking but put a lot of emotion into the piece.

“That’s what you want to create but you never know what people will think,” she says.

Inspired by music, Fiona laughs when I ask her what her favourite band is, before rattling off a number of very diverse genre groups. Whether it’s Arcade Fire, The Killers or even David Bowie, Fiona says music gives her the freedom to imagine the person that will soon adorn her canvas.

When creating a specific series of works, Fiona says she listens to one particular type of music to influence her mood which in turn, reflects what turns out on the canvas.

Sometimes using life drawing figures and sometimes using reference material from art magazines or movies, painting has become instinctual now for Fiona and the majority of her subject matter comes from her imagination.

“[My style] it’s not Portraiture because I don’t like the restriction of it. I prefer to create figures from inside my mind.”

Ms Manning says the current exhibition is a contemporary show which targets a particular demographic. After a successful opening night on September 7 and several enquiries, one of Fiona’s pieces – ‘Wind or Waterfall’ – has sold for $1750.

When telling me about the first artwork she ever sold, which was “quite a sensual piece,” Fiona recalls with a laugh, her shock in discovering that a couple in their seventies had been the purchasers.

“When you’re painting something, in your mind you think of the type of person who might be attracted to that piece but quite often, you’re completely wrong. I thought my work appealed to the thirty year old bracket but it often contrasts,” she says.

The work that goes into preparing for a show is a full time job. Usually starting two or three months prior to the exhibition opening, Fiona says the amount of hours she puts in at her studio requires her full time attention.

“The closer [the exhibition] gets, obviously I get under more and more pressure, I work over the weekends, longer hours and into the evening sometimes.”

Despite usually having one month off in-between shows, Fiona is taking the next twelve months off. Using time to “refresh and revisit,” away from the stress and pressure of deadlines. Fiona won’t be abandoning her creating flare though, insisting that she has to have some kind of creative outlet in her life.